A laboratory study on effects of cycling helmet fit on biomechanical measures associated with head and neck injury and dynamic helmet retention

[+] Author and Article Information
Henry Y Yu

Biomedical Instrumentation Lab, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton AB Canada T6G 1H9

Christopher Dennison

Biomedical Instrumentation Lab, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton AB Canada T6G 1H9

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4040944 History: Received March 06, 2018; Revised July 17, 2018


There is a scant biomechanical literature that tests, in a laboratory setting, whether or not determinants of helmet fit affect biomechanical parameters associated with injury. Using conventional cycling helmets and repeatable models of the human head and neck, integrated into a guided drop impact experiment at speeds up to 6m/s, this study tests the hypothesis that fit affects head kinematics, neck kinetics, and the extent to which the helmet moves relative to the underlying head (an indicator of helmet positional stability). While there were a small subset of cases where head kinematics were statistically significantly altered by fit, when viewed as a whole our measures of head kinematics suggest that fit does not systematically alter kinematics of the head secondary to impact. Similarly, when viewed as a whole our data suggests that fit does not systematically alter resultant neck compression and resultant moment and associated biomechanical measures. Our data suggests that backward fit helmets exhibit the worst dynamic stability, in particular when the torso is impacted before the helmeted head is impacted, suggesting that the typical certification method of dynamical loading of a helmet to quantify retention may not be representative of highly plausible cycling incident scenarios where impact forces are first applied to the torso leading to loading of the neck prior to the head. Further study is warranted so that factors of fit that affect injury outcome are uncovered in both laboratory and real world settings.

Copyright (c) 2018 by ASME
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